Chapter 33

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Elizabeth ran her fingers over the book spines as she selected a tome from the library shelf, pulled it out, looked down at it, and placed it back on the shelf for what felt like the hundredth time.

She blew out a breath of frustration and turned from the stacks of shelves, crossing the room to gaze out of the window. Elizabeth stood quietly, arms crossed over her chest, and watched as a pair of sparrows hopped about the branches of a cherry tree, playing in the bright pink blooms.

Lord, I can't help but be worried about Edward and Matthew; please keep my dear friends safe. Please let them find something, there has to be a way to put an end to Mr. Stanton's wrath.

Elizabeth's thoughts turned to the last moments she had shared with Edward. Her heart ached as she thought about the doubt that had filled her soul; doubt in the possibility that Edward's father could in fact change, doubt in Edward himself, doubt in the very thing she had placed her trust in all of her life.

Oh, Lord, how sorry I am; I truly didn't believe that You are big enough to handle this, I do know that with You all things are possible, that all things work together for good to those who love You. Please heal Mr. Stanton's heart, and take away his anger and bitterness. And help me to forgive him for what's been done.

Elizabeth thought about her mother, knowing that she couldn't live in fear of tragedy, in fear of losing loved ones the way she had lost her mother. And she knew that she couldn't stay angry at Mr. Stanton forever; it would cause her to harbor hate and bitterness in her heart the way he had for all these years.

A smile spread across her face as she stood there, watching the birds flutter through the leaves of the tree, chasing each other. The scene reminded her that if God provided for the birds and met their needs, He would do the same for her.

And no matter what end was to come, she was ready to meet it.

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"I think we've lost him," Matthew leaned back against a brick wall, catching his breath.

Edward nodded back at him, taking deep breaths.

They had made a hasty escape from the office at the Stanton house, racing out onto the streets and into the crowds of people walking the city. The two had ducked into a drugstore which Edward knew had a rear door, and had doubled back the way they had come, after making sure their pursuer had already passed.

"Any ideas on who that big lug was?" Matthew asked, peeking around the corner of the building.

"I didn't recognize him, but my father has several lackeys that do his bidding. It could've been any one of them. I don't see how my father could possibly be onto us that quickly, especially if he is still out at the plantation. Still, he did have me followed the day I took Elizabeth horseback riding, but I don't think we were followed from the plantation; otherwise we would have been intercepted sometime last night. I suppose anything is possible; we must tread carefully."

Matthew nodded, "Now what, my friend?"

Edward removed the box from his jacket. "I want to look over these papers carefully to see what sort of leads they contain, if any. They have to be important since my father hid them with these photographs." Edward glanced up at his friend, "Will you keep watch?"

"Right-o." Matthew turned his back on Edward, watching the main street from around the corner of the building.

Edward flipped open the box and started rifling through the papers. Many of them were folded to fit into the small compartment, and he carefully opened each of them. Reading and re-reading each one, he tried in vain to make sense of the slips of paper. They seemed to be a strange sort of correspondence between his father and one or many unknown persons. Edward's eyes rested on one in particular, a single, short statement.

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